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Fay Sampson’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)



THOMAS KEYNES. Sir William Pole, writing in the 17th century, gives a pedigree for the Keynes family of Winkleigh, a village between Crediton and Bideford. He gives isolated references to the name in the 12th and 13th centuries, but the continuous pedigree begins: ‘Thomas Keynes maried Jone, sister of Walter Stapeldon, Bishop of Exon, and had issue John’.[1]

Pole’s family tree gives no dates, but by matching the evidence of Inquisitions Post Mortem, which give dates and ages, as well as the dates of the well-documented Bishop Walter, we can be fairly confident that this is the Thomas Keynes who died in 1308.[2]

In the second half of the 13th century we have evidence for two William Keynes, probably father and son, and of Sir Roger Keynes, who was lord of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes in 1281, and possibly later.[3] One of them is probably Thomas’s father. One or two of them may be his brother. It is reasonably certain that any Keynes associated with Winkleigh is descended from William de Keynes, who was given land there in the 12th century, and thus from the Norman Guillaume de Cahaignes, who fought at the Battle of Hastings.[4]

Judging from the age of his eldest son and heir, John¸ at the time of his death, it would appear that Thomas was born around 1270 or earlier. This would have been in the closing years of the long reign of Henry III.[5]

He would probably have grown up at Court Castle, a motte and bailey castle, originally of timber, on a large mound at the eastern end of the village.

The manors of Winkleigh formed a separate Hundred in the Middle Ages, responsible for sending 100 men to fight in times of war.[6] As a young man, an important part of Thomas’s life would have been training to fight in such wars and to lead men from the manor.


JOAN STAPLEDON was the daughter of William and Mabel Stapledon. Her brother Walter was born at Annery, in the parish of Monkleigh, south of Bideford, and her brother Sir Richard was also said to be ‘of Annery’, so it is likely that this was Joan’s home.[7] Annery stands north of the village, close to the River Torridge. It may have been a manor house.

The eldest son of the family was Richard. Walter was born in 1261. Joan would probably have been born within a few years of him. The age of her eldest son suggests that she was younger, rather than older than Walter. There was also a sister, Douce.

Richard became Sir Richard Stapledon, of Stapledon, the family home near Holsworthy. He married Joan Hay, heiress of lands in Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Devon. He died in 1332. Douce married the landed William Hereward, whose family records are kept at Berkeley Castle. Walter entered the Church.[8]

We do not know when Thomas and Joan married, but it would have been around 1290. Their eldest son, John, was born 1292-3.


In 1290, Edward I expelled the Jews from England. Their role in the economy was transferred to Italian financiers.

This was the time when the knights of the shires were taking over more of the running of the country. They had to raise keep the peace, raise money and troops, gather information for the king, and execute the judgement of his courts. It was the beginning of a tradition of unpaid public service by the gentry.

Every man under 60 had to arm himself at his own expense, to assist in keeping the peace and defending the realm. In every hundred, constables compiled Muster Rolls and made regular inspections.


Thomas’s Inquisition Post Mortem says that he owned two estates. One was the tenement of Thorry, in the parish of Hartland. It included a ‘capital messuage’ or manor house. Thorry is now known as Docton, and lies two miles south west of Hartland village.[9] Joan may have brought this to him as her dowry. Thomas also had a house and land at Winkleigh, but the house is described simply as a ‘messuage’. This may mean that Thomas was not lord of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes. He may have been a younger son or died before his father. The IPM was held in Monkleigh. Perhaps the family were living at Thorry, in North Devon, and not at the traditional Keynes home of Winkleigh Castle.[10]

The earliest documentary evidence we have for him is a reference in 1298 to ‘Thomas of Wyncelade’.

This is followed by a reference in the Feudal Aids:

1303  [Hundredum de] Wynkelegh
Thomas De Keynes tenet de eodem ibidem di. f.


Thomas died in 1308, when John was only fifteen. This suggests that Thomas had barely reached middle age.

KAYGNES, Thomas de.                      1 Edw.II. [1308]
Chancery Inq.p.m.  Edw.II.  File 2 (3)
[Formerly No.30]

m.1.  Writ dated at Westminster 2 May 1 Edw.II. [1308]

m.2.  Devon.

Inquisition taken at Monekelegh Wednesday after St. Barnabas 1 Edw.II. [Wednesday 12 June 1308] by the oath of John Herward, Juel de Herpath, John le Deneys, Henry le Deneys, Richard de la Weye, Philip de la Boure, William Coule, John de Wike, William de Depeforde, Philip de Strokesworth, William de Asmandesworth & Ralph de la Lane: who say that Thomas Kaynes held the tenement of Thorry of the heir of Joyce de Dyneham. a minor & the King’s ward, by rent of 1 lb. of pepper, price 12d., & suit of court at Hertone. There is there a capital messuage worth yearly 12d., a dovecot 6d., there are 3 acres of meadow, 12d., 8 of pasture 16d., 40 of arable 10s. Also a messuage & carucate in Wynkelegh, held of the Earl of Gloucester by 1/8 of a knight’s fee, worth yearly 2s., 100 acres of arable & pasture 25s. rent of assize £2; pleas & perquisites 2s.

John Kaynes, son & heir, aged 15.

‘1/8 of a knight’s fee’ is a mistake in the abstract. Later IPMs and Feudal Aids show that the estate at Winkleigh was held by half a knight’s fee. A knight’s fee was the requirement to provide and equip a mounted knight for his lord’s service.


Curiously there is another reference to Thomas Keynes of Winkleigh in the Feudal Aids for 1316.

Hundredum de Wynkelegh
Est dominus ejusdem Thomas de Caygnes, in quo nullus est burgus, et nisi unica villa tantummodo, que vocatur Wynkelegh, et est dominus ejusdem predictus Thomas.

This is too early to be his grandson Thomas.


Later in 1308, the year Thomas died, Joan’s brother Walter became Bishop of Exeter.

Walter Stapledon
Born: 1st February 1261 at Annery, Devon
Bishop of Exeter
Died: 15th October 1326 at Cheapside, Middlesex

Walter Stapledon was the first of a series of 14th century Bishops of Exeter drawn from aristocratic families. Walter was the son of William & Mabel Stapledon and younger brother of Sir Richard Stapledon of Stapledon, near Holsworthy. He entered the service of the Church as Vicar of Aveton Gifford (Devon) around 1293 and later became Professor of Canon Law at Oxford as well as Chaplain to Pope Clement V. His enthronement, in October 1308, was unusually splendid and the feast, which followed it, is said to have consumed the revenues of the see for an entire year. In his own cathedral, besides other decorations which have long disappeared, he erected the sedilia and the choir screen. In Oxford, he was the founder of Stapledon’s Inn (now Exeter College) and of Hart Hall, which stood on the north side of Broad Street. In London, Bishop Stapeldon built “a very fair house ” in the Strand for the use of himself and his successors. It was afterwards bought by Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite, the Earl of Essex, and known as Essex House.

The Bishop early became one of Edward II’s privy counsellors and, in 1320, was created Lord High Treasurer. In 1325, he was attached to the embassy which accompanied Queen Isabella to the court of her brother, King Charles of France, who was planning to deprive Edward II of his French dominions. A treaty, to which Edward agreed, was concluded and Bishop Stapeldon returned to England. The Queen, asserting her fear of the Despencers, the favourites of her husband, remained in France, attended by “her gentle Mortimer”. After war had been declared between the two countries, she landed on the Suffolk coast, supported by a body of 2,000 troops from Hainault. She was immediately joined by the great body of discontented nobles and advanced, at once, to London. The King fled to Bristol, leaving the City of London in charge of the Bishop of Exeter who, accordingly, demanded the keys of the City from the Mayor. But the citizens rose on the Queen’s side, attacked the Bishop as he was riding through the streets, dragged him from St. Paul’s Cathedral, where he had taken refuge, and hurrying him to the “great cross in Cheap,” there beheaded him, together with certain other knights (15th October 1326). The body of the Bishop was at first flung aside irreverently, but afterwards, for the sake of concealment, was buried in the sand on the riverside, near his own palace. Six months later it was removed, by the Queen’s command, to his cathedral at Exeter, where it was interred with great magnificence. His tomb remains on the north side of the choir. A diligent search after the murderers of Bishop Stapeldon was ordered in a synod held in London in 1329, under Simon Mepham, Archbishop of Canterbury. Such of them as could be discovered were tried and executed accordingly.

Edited from Richard John King’s “Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Southern Division” (1903).[11]

Some of Walter Stapledon’s work can still be seen in Exeter Cathedral:

The only truly original parts of the Cathedral are the two Norman Towers, which rise to around 40 metres. Instead of a central or western tower, there are twin towers north and south of the east end of the nave. No other church has Norman towers in this position. The remainder of the Cathedral was demolished in 1260, rebuilding started by Bishop Walter Bronescombe in the 1270’s and continued to be rebuilt during the next 100 years or so, the new design being much extended. The wealthy, Bishop Walter Stapledon was able to provide the Cathedral with many endowments for extensions of the work. The nave was begun around 1310 and the huge pulpitum dates from the same time.

The Bishops Throne was the gift of Bishop Walter Stapledon, who was also founder of Exeter College in Oxford. It is intricately carved from local Devon Oak wood, using no nails and completed in the year 1312.The throne measures 18 metres in height, and is considered to be the finest in the whole of England.[12]

 The bishop’s throne was damaged in the Exeter Blitz, but has been carefully restored.

He also endowed a number of churches throughout Devon.

Joan’s brother, Sir Richard Stapledon, was listed by Sir Richard Pole as one of the men of best worth in the county in the reigns of King Edward I (1272-1307), King Edward II (1307-27) and King Edward III (1327-77).[13] In the second and third listings he is said to be ‘of Annery’. A note in italics says: ‘Richard Stapledon, slayne with his brother Walter Biship of Exeter.’ In fact, Richard died years later.

He also has a canopied tomb in Exeter Cathedral, It stands on the north side of the choir aisle. Richard is shown lying cross-legged in mail armour. ‘An interesting and uncommon feature of the monument is the presence of the knight’s squire, groom (or page), and horse.’[14] The heads of the horse and the attendants are now missing. The arms on his shield are ‘Argent, two bends undee, or wayvey, Sable.’[15]


We do not know the date of Joan’s death, or whether she lived to see the early death of her husband in 1308 or the murder of her brother in 1326.


[1] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791), p.431.

[2] IPM Thomas de Kaygnes, 1308. [WSL]

[3] Pole, p.431.

[4] Geoffrey Gibbon, Through the Saxon Door: The Story of Somerford Keynes, (1969).

[5] IPM Thomas de Kaygnes, 1308. [WSL]

[6] Lesley McLean, ed., Winkleigh: A View of their Parish by the People of Winkleigh, (Beaford Arts Centre, 1997), p.36.

[7] http://www.britannia.com/bios/wstapledon.html;

[8] www.a2a.org.uk. Berkeley Castle Muniments: BCM/A/2/20.

[9] www.hartlandforum.co.uk/hartsoc/placenames.htm

[10] IPM Thomas de Kaygnes, 1308.

[11] http://www.britannia.com/bios/wstapledon.html;

portait: http://search.famsf.org:8080/view.shtml?record=47152&=list&=1&=&=And

[12] http://www.exetercd.freeservers.com/cathedral.html

[13] Pole

[14] Vyvyan Hope and John Lloyd, Exeter Cathedral: A Short History and Description, (Exeter Cathedral, 1973), p.48.

[15] Pole, p.110.




Sampson Tree